Guest Post: Turning generational quest into adventure - Jean Pralong

Turning generational quest into adventure:Why career researchers love Sean Aiken

How do people make tactics to find and keep a job? How do they define their priorities? These questions are what career research is all about. Firms no longer make careers: how could they when it is impossible to plan the next semester? Our job as researchers is no longer to understand the methods of the enterprise; we need to discover how individuals manage their careers through choices, ruptures and opportunities. Sean is our most interesting witness. His adventure is a perfect example of what the “new careers” are. Sean shows us four innovations.

The first innovation is that Sean keeps an open mind in the question of his career. As a business graduate with exceptional marks, perhaps he could have immediately become a manager in an international company. But he’s looking for a passion, not only for a job. His ambition is huge: having an exceptional working life, involving every talent, resource and creativity. Everything is possible: tattoo artist, florist… In an open ended world that is constantly changing, everything seems to be possible â€" even if the abundance of opportunities is distressing. When everything is possible, how can one make the right choice? How can one find “his” vocation?

Here is the second innovation shown by Sean’s adventure. Everyone has to manage their own career. As ambitions are high and choices so widely open, individuals must develop a new skill : a skill to recognize competencies and to interpret them in order to make the right career decisions and produce the right career tactics. That’s what Sean learns every day.

Third, Sean turns his quest into a shared adventure. He has a lot of great ideas: blogging, podcasting, donations… The “new careers” are made of social networks. And, slowly but surely, Sean is becoming a professional… of a new job. He has in effect created a new business, he is a “Sean â€"the-vocation-searcher.” It is a job that only one applicant can fit and is made up of all the skills and talents of Sean â€" this unique compilation creates a new job. That’s the fourth innovation of the “new careers”: the best way to involve all your skills in your job is to create a job made of all your skills â€" instead of trying to fit in an existing and traditional one. Sean is now the hero of a quest turned into an adventure. That’s why he is so important for all of us.

Jean Pralong Psychologist, HR & career researcher at ESCP-EAP (European school of management â€" Paris â€" France)